Monthly Archives: June 2014

Reel Talk Episode 34 – We All Love Keanu

Just one of the many excellent Man of Tai Chi fight scenes.

So! This week features extensive discussion of Keanu Reeves films, given its recording following a Reeves marathon. However, though we all love Keanu, there was some division over his filmography, particularly Point Break and Bill & Ted, which was fairly entertaining. Then onto the week’s excellent news (Shane Black Predator film? YES YES YES) and some chat about a couple bafflingly bad films, in the shape of In the Name of the King and Savages, and one good film: Snowpiercer! Honestly, I think it’s a pretty good show – so why not have a listen?

Or subscribe on iTunes!



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A Moment of Tact

Tact is an underestimated artistic skill.

Art deals with human misery as a matter of course. It depends on conflict after all, and there is a clear preference amongst storytellers for the extremes of human existence where pain is a matter of course. Still, pain is also a difficult thing to convey. Go overboard in your presentation, and you’re likely to end up where Requiem for a Dream did – with images that shock to such an extent that they lose their human scale. The pain inflicted on that movie’s characters in the end is too great. It is so over-emphasised, it loses veracity. This is a common issue in drug-centred narratives (because we tend to overreact in our presentation of the ill-effects of drugs), but the problem is a universal one. If you want an audience to understand the pain of your characters, to tap into the deeper hurt that lies beneath the screams, you need tact.

This is demonstrated perfectly by a single Orange is the New Black scene.

In this scene, Dayanara Diaz (Dascha Polanco) is about to give her boyfriend/guard John Bennett (Matt McGorry) a blowjob. He seems uncomfortable as she undoes his trousers, which I at first interpreted as coming from the problematic nature of a prisoner-guard romance, until that is she takes them down far enough that she uncovers his false leg. She looks at it, and looks up, and the camera takes a darting swing upwards to see Bennett staring, straight ahead, his face so tense and so still. In that look, those few visual seconds, lies a whole world of fear, fear of rejection, fear of the consequences of difference. At that look, my breath caught. The camera snapped back to Diaz. She pauses, and the pause seems to last forever. Then, slowly, gently, she plants a kiss on the thigh of the false leg. And goes back to business.

This is a scene of pain. The fear in Bennett is clear and sharp – the tension he feels immediately transmitted to the viewer. The sense of timing, on part of actors and editors both, functions to hold that tension for the beat it needs to really twist the heartstrings. The gentleness of Diaz in releasing that tension turns an unwinding into a blossoming of feeling. This is a scene of great emotional power, achieved through the smallest movements, and it feels so sincere it breaks the heart.

Such is the worth of artistic tact.

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Reel Talk Episode 32 – Cinema Sinning

An episode built on three talk-chunk-foundations.

1) A discussion of Cinema Sins, a YouTube show that takes a particularly nitpicky approach to deconstructing cinema, following their being roundly criticised on Twitter. Pete and Zhana were calm and measured in their analysis. I was…less so. I hold the same gut-level aversion to that show that I do to The Only Way Is Essex.

2) A review of 22 Jump Street by yours truly! It’s a great film, and I saw it with a great crowd – Ice Cube was all the funnier for the havoc he wreaked on the funnybones of the people behind me.

3) A review of Boyhood by Pete! In which he describes the new Linklater film as a film that perfectly judges how to tell a story set in normal life. Goshdarn but I want to see it now.

So, for all this, plus the entertaining nattering going on between the chunks, why not click the link below OR…subscribe on iTunes.



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Reel Talk Episode 31: Elegantly Bald

Mark Strong is the kind of human being the world is lucky to have.

I on the other hand have a tendency to derail things – hence this podcast, which is mostly composed of tangents. Damn good tangents though! We talk about the politics of Roland Emmerich, the true nature of auteurs, Pete’s existential crises and Zhana’s condescending sex fantasies, indulging in a smorgasbord of topics. So what are you waiting for? Listen at the link below, OR, subscribe on iTunes.

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